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Front Neurosci. 2019 Mar 12;13:215. doi: 10.3389/fnins.2019.00215. eCollection 2019.

Acupuncture for Histamine-Induced Itch: Association With Increased Parasympathetic Tone and Connectivity of Putamen-Midcingulate Cortex.

Min S1,2, Kim KW3,4, Jung WM1,2, Lee MJ2, Kim YK1,2, Chae Y1,2, Lee H1,2, Park HJ1,2.

Author information

1
Department of Science in Korean Medicine, Graduate School, College of Korean Medicine, Kyung Hee University, Seoul, South Korea.
2
Acupuncture and Meridian Science Research Center, Kyung Hee University, Seoul, South Korea.
3
Department of Korean Rehabilitation Medicine, College of Korean Medicine, Kyung Hee University, Seoul, South Korea.
4
East-West Medical Research Institute, Kyung Hee University, Seoul, South Korea.

Abstract

Previous studies have suggested that acupuncture is effective for ameliorating itch intensity. However, factors associated with the antipruritic effects of acupuncture have yet to be clarified. In a randomized, sham-controlled, crossover trial, we investigated the antipruritic effects of acupuncture against histamine-induced itch in healthy volunteers. Autonomic changes using heart rate variability (HRV) and brain connectivity using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) were also assessed to identify physiological factors associated with the acupuncture response. Acupuncture significantly reduced itch intensity and skin blood perfusion as assessed by laser Doppler perfusion imaging compared to sham control, indicating the antipruritic effects of acupuncture. In responder and non-responder analysis, the power of normalized high frequency (HF norm) was significantly higher, while the power of normalized low frequency (LF norm) and LF/HF ratio were significantly lower in responders compared to non-responders, suggesting the acupuncture response involved parasympathetic activation. In fMRI analysis, the putamen and the posterior part of the midcingulate cortex (pMCC) were positively connected to itch and negatively correlated with itch intensity in responders. These results suggest that parasympathetic activity and functional connectivity of the putamen and pMCC could be associated with antipruritic response to acupuncture.

KEYWORDS:

acupuncture; functional magnetic resonance imaging; heart rate variability; histamine; itch; midcingulate cortex; putamen

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